The Port

6 months since my last post… and I’ll be honest with you, my most recent posts have been few and far between.

It’s been a tough year for me. Love has been difficult. Love for my partner, love for life and love for myself. For 7 months I navigated tormenting waters; with a lot of support, both personal and professional. About a month ago I reached a calm and sheltered port in my heart, from where I could (thankfully) plan the next part of my journey with openness, positivity and love.

But I haven’t done any planning. I haven’t moved forward one step from that place. At best, I’m still on the boat. I may have even started to float back out to sea.

Maybe I’m apathetic. Maybe I just feel like I need a break from the ‘thinking’, the ‘working’, the ‘navigating’. But that’s how I got into those waters in the first place. Being apathetic and/or refusing to ‘work’.

I made a commitment to my partner in that quiet, sunny, beautiful port. To ‘show up’ every day, to be on our Team and to always ‘do the hard work’. I haven’t kept my promises. I’ve let him down. I’ve let us down. I’ve let myself down.

I tell him often that he needs to look after himself, love himself, find his happiness so that we can look after each other, love each other and find happiness together as a couple and as a family. But I have not been ‘walking the walk’. I have focused on our relationship, on our family, and now on nothing. Forgetting about myself in the process.

I need to get out my oars (fresh air, meditation, avocados, creative endeavours and of course, yoga!), row my boat back to port and show-the-hell-up to my life.

 

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Out of the blue

Hello! It’s been a while again, hasn’t it? My bad. Lots going on, and I’ve been trying to prioritise correctly.

Thanks to the 3 Day Nanny and a reward chart, my toddlers behaviour has transformed itself in the last few weeks. And, I’m kind of ashamed to say, so has my own. Ashamed because that means admitting, that previously, my behaviour had been poor.

I can see, now, that I spent several months wallowing in despair. Having 2 toddlers is hard work and can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Instead of taking a deep breath and some positive steps to make things better, I was creating a cycle of sadness and stress. I was making myself and everyone around me, including my babies, downright miserable. No wonder there were daily tantrums. Life was no fun. No fun at all.

My Beloved and I spent a couple of months talking with a relationship specialist. The first few sessions were easy. And afterwards we tried to ensure we made some time for ‘us’. But, I wasn’t feeling any improvement at home. A few weeks ago, though, we had a tough session. We argued. There was genuine anger. But, I think it was a turning point. I think we were starting to get honest.

We continue to meet with our friend, though not so regularly. It turns out we’re not naturally good communicators (which is funny, given the jobs that we do!) and we needed someone to help us just talk to each other.

We’re better now, although still have a way to go. There is still anger some days, there is still frustration. There are still many misunderstandings. But, how we each react to a negative feeling in the other, is beginning to change and we are able to deal with most of these instances quite quickly and move on. (In the past, it would have dragged on for hours, maybe even days).

And I think that is how the ball began to roll…

Feeling more confident in our ability to feel, to express and to deal with emotion without the threat of Armageddon, we were able (I was able) to knock down the walls that were keeping happiness at bay.

And so we started having some fun.

We had my baby girls birthday party with all her little friends. We went on an Outdoors Adventure holiday. We searched for Goldilocks and the 3 bears in the woods. We’ve been swimming. We’ve been on bike rides. We’ve been to the park and fed the ducks. We’ve been to the safari park. We washed the car. The kids have loved it. And we have re-discovered our inner child.

We’re having fun!

And I noticed something.

When the kids are happy, their behaviour is better. Which makes family time less stressful. Which makes us happier. The cycle, is now on an upwards spiral. So, we decided to make the most of it.

We introduced a reward chart 2 weeks ago, some house rules (like Be Kind, Share, Use your manners and Safety 1st). And we’ve tried really hard to stop saying NO! and start following through on the consequences of bad behaviour. But, to be honest, with less ‘nay-saying’ and positive focus on the sticker chart, there’s actually less need for ‘going to your room’. Both kids even managed to give up their dummy’s with only 1 night of major complaints. (Particularly difficult for my 3 year old as we had enabled her to form a very strong dependency on her “dodi”)

So, here we are. Not in the proverbial rose garden. And not with children who behave perfectly 100% of the time. But, a happy family, who love and support each other and are all learning how to deal with the hard stuff, and move on from it, so that we can get back to doing the fun stuff, sooner than later.

We’re out of the blue, and into the sunshine.

Disconnected

Forgive me readers, for I have lapsed. It has been 1 calendar month since my last blog post.

And in my last blog post I shared with you the challenges I (and my family) were wrestling with, due to my having to travel for work lately. Well, the travelling came to an end a couple of weeks ago, expedited (I think) by a case of the Chickenpox in my 2 year old. So, I’m almost back to my happy equilibrium.

I say almost, because I find myself (as I seem to quite regularly, these days) with the need to process a handful of seemingly unconnected thoughts currently bouncing around in my head, in my heart, in my soul, even.

And so, I take to the keyboard, once more, in pursuit of catharsis.

My first thought, is that I am tired. We all are. My 2 year old has had a tough couple of weeks and has been at home with us (see above), my 10 month old still refuses to sleep through the night, work has been crazy, busy and stressful and of course there was the travelling.

You may or may not be familiar with the effects of sleep deprivation, but it pretty much screws up your ability to function on a daily basis and certainly messes with your ability to think straight. Therefor, your normal world view gets skewed into something more akin to a fairground Hall of Mirrors than a direct reflection of reality. And so, to give clear context for the following 4 thoughts, I felt it was necessary to mention this first.

Secondly, my Beloved and I have lapsed in our efforts to spend quality time together and focus on our relationship (i.e. me and him, as opposed to mummy and daddy to 2 young kids, lots of bills to pay and chores to organise). I am just as guilty as he is. I have not taken the opportunity, during the little time we have alone in the evenings on weekdays, to say “hey, why don’t we turn off the TV, put down our phones and listen to some music or just sit and talk. I want to get to know you even better than I do now”. I have not made time or arrangements for date nights, I have not cast my laptop aside and spontaneously called out to him “let’s do lunch! come on, get your coat on, let’s go!”. I have not done any of these things for some time.

Thirdly, I have neglected to take time for myself. I have neglected to shower daily (gross, I know). I have neglected to do my hair. To put on make up. To paint my nails. To do yoga. To breathe in and to breathe out.

And so, I have left myself feeling empty. And it is needless. Because fulfilment is completely within my own control.

What is it that ‘They’ say? “You cannot control all the things that happens in your life, but you can control how you feel about them”. I think ‘They’ are right.

‘They’ also say, “If you don’t like something, change it”.

I need to reconnect with my Beloved, on all levels. I need to reconnect with myself. So, I’m going to get my finger out. I’m going to utilise my (allegedly) legendary organisation skills and make some immediate changes that will take me closer to my 2013 goal, on a personal level.

My first step will be out into the sunshine, to close my eyes and breathe.

Book Club

I’ve been inspired to pick up a book and read (an actual book with actual paper pages). Strangely, I’ve been inspired almost exactly at the same time from two different sources. Firstly, there was my Twitter buddy (@billy_mccallum), who’s been reading War and Peace and tweeting a synopsis of the plot lines as he goes. I never thought I could read a book as long as War and Peace, but his ingenuity with 140 characters makes the story seem very accessible. And then a suggestion from my Beloved, to turn off the TV for one night per week, turn on some relaxing music, read and talk. He’d picked up on something I’d mentioned in the passing about wanting to read more. How thoughtful!

So, I’ve started reading. As has my Beloved. Not War and Peace, but a fairly lengthy tale, and one that I have read before. A story that I love. In fact, I would probably say it’s my favourite book of all time (so far – I don’t read that much). The Count of Monte Cristo. The original (though, I’m sure even it is based on another original) tale of love, loss and rebirth. And I’m tweeting my synopsis (though not nearly as amusingly as Billy.)

Bear with me, whilst I digress a little… Another little hobby that I’ve been working on recently, is developing my family tree (more of that in another blog). The information that I am coming across is fascinating. But what really strikes me a general realisation about the world and human nature.

The story in the book, the stories I have discovered in my Family Tree and the stories I have lived in my own life, can all be threaded together by similar themes. Young love, loss, greed, lust, injustice, unrequited love, “illegitimate” children, “living in sin”, birth, death, relationship breakdown, mental illness… the list goes on and on…

But despite ideas held firm by my parents and grandparents, of things being different or better in the “Good Old Days”. They were just the same. Because fundamentally, human nature has not changed much over the last few centuries. And every generation lives through the same trials and tribulations, the same highs and lows. That’s life.

And that’s one of the wonderful facets of books. Some books offer escape, some knowledge. And many offer re-assurance that we are not alone, that someone else has walked this path before us and survived.

The Green Eyed Monster

I don’t know if it’s the January blues, or some delayed post natal melancholy, but I feel a little sad today. The feeling has been triggered by the sight of a photo that my BFF published on Facebook last night. In the photo she is glamourous, slender and blonde and tanned, with her two adorable children. She’s on holiday, so there is blue sea and blue sky behind her and it’s very, very sunny. And she is smiling such a beautiful, genuinely happy smile.

Cut to me – as they say in Hollywood – sitting in baggy sweatpants that might walk off me, of their own accord, at any minute now. Dyed dark hair that makes me look even more blue than my natural Scottish skin tone. It’s more than a little peppered with grey, which coupled with the deep set wrinkles and deathly pallor of my face add about 15 years to me. Then there’s the wobbly, podgy, size 15 body, which hasn’t been cared for in months (no, make that years, if we’re being honest). And I’m scowling, a genuinely gloomy scowl.

I’m envious, though I shouldn’t be. She has had the toughest year of her life and she really deserves to have come out the other side with a huge smile on her face. And I love her deeply. She’s my BFF. But I can’t shake the envy.

Envy is a green eyed monster, a monster that’s only concern is with the destruction of its beholder.

I’ve learned though, from many years of psychotherapy and from many more years of managing issues at work, that what looks like the problem is often not the problem at all. I don’t mean to be mysterious, so, I’ll expand. The envy I feel for my BFF’s perfectly tanned, slender and happy life is, as I said earlier, a trigger. Designed by my subconscious to make me think more deeply about something that is actually causing me unhappiness.

I’ve experienced many of these “triggers” in recent years. Some quite major and others more superficial. All of which result in finding an issue around a similar theme; Me.

I’ve just had a tough few months of my own. My Beloved and I have had to work very hard together to get through them. We’ve had significant financial challenges, even greater emotional challenges and toddler challenges that require the diplomatic skills of Kofi Annan. And we’re not out of the tunnel yet. *DING* And there it is…

She’s out of the tunnel, and I desperately want to be too.

Patience is something that no one in my little family unit has much of. Especially me. (Try teaching patience to a 2 year old when you struggle with it yourself!) So, I guess I’ll have to revert to walking the walk… One little step at a time. Today, I’m going to take some time out and meditate. And outside of that, try to practice being present. Enjoy the moments, not long for the future. It won’t be easy, but, I have just re-read I Breathe In, I Breathe Out, on Yoga + Living + Life, and I’m drawing support and inspiration from this simple mantra.

Thank you for reading what has been quite a cathartic post. I feel a little less blue now. If you’re felling sad today, leave me a comment. Maybe we can help each other through it.

We are Fa-mi-lee

So, my Beloved and I attended the wedding reception of one of his work colleagues this weekend. Thankfully (as it was my first experience of a wedding sans alcool, like EVER!) it wasn’t a particularly boozy affair. Very family orientated, tonnes of kids… even one that looked about 3 weeks old (which got me very very excited every time I seen it! :-)).

It was a really lovely evening and it was great to get out and do something and talk to other people about things other than babies and lists and jobs to do. Well I say that, but in reality with a bump this size you’re never more than 30 seconds off the subject of babies!

There’s another wedding reception (seems there’s something in the water at my Beloved’s workplace) coming up on October 1st which I was reliably informed by the Bride-To-Be on Saturday will be a VERY boozy affair. How one attends a black tie wedding reception 3 days after giving birth (worst case scenario) and looks remotely like a human being, let alone a glamorous Goddess, I have no idea… pah! who am I kidding, whether it’s 3 weeks or 3 days, do I really think I have a chance of stepping foot over my front door without my days old baby? Err, No! Whilst it’s a nice idea, I really don’t think it’s feasible. She did say I could bring the baby, but I think she was just being polite. I had only just met her for the first time after all.

Inevitably though, the conversation moved along from babies to weddings as we talked about her plans for her big day. Now, in this day and age no-one really bothers when you’re 8 months pregnant and not married, but the question still comes up “Do you think you guys will ever get married?”, more in relation to co-habiting or just “going out” I think, because we’ve been asked that question for about 4 years now. And it’s something that we’ve talked about on several occassions.

Now, both my Beloved and I are casualties of the “Starter Marriage“. Not that either of us planned it that way and not that we’re proud of it. We both went into our marriages with total commitment and unfortunately it didn’t work out. Or as we like to look at it more positively now; fortunately, as we found each other (quite some time later, just to be clear) and it has allowed our ex-partners to move on with their lives and find happiness too. Which can only be a good thing for all involved. I digress…

So, yes, as I was explaining we’ve both been married before and so, for me anyway, I place infinitely more value on the strength of our relationship than on a piece of paper that says I’m legally committed to my Beloved. More than that though… I believe we are making the biggest commitment possible to each other right now. We are making a family.

Anyone that knows me (and I know some of you don’t) knows just how much importance I place on family. I’ve been brought up to love unconditionally where family is concerned. Rightly or wrongly. It may well be partly why I have found relationships difficult. No-one, no love, could compare to the love that I feel for my family. And I also believe that families should stick together – not that I’m getting on my soapbox and saying one parent families or multi-parent families are wrong. Families are diverse and it’s sticking with the love that we share that is important. Even if we don’t live in the same house anymore. I’m one of the lucky ones, my parents are still together, my siblings all still talk to one another and get on well and so I look around myself and I think; I love this! This what I want for my kids.

So, I guess I’m saying that for me, personally, it’s not that I don’t want to marry my Beloved, but having a baby with him is the single biggest most important commitment I could ever make to anyone. It’s the one thing that tells the world “I love this man, unconditionally. He is part of my family and we are a family”.

The Goddess of Inappropriate Laughter

Well, I’m 3 days into my Positive December… And boy have I been challenged. And I’m not just referring to the freezing cold blustery weather that appeared on the doorstep on December 1st, like an unwanted relative who has no conception of the etiquette of family visits. And, by the way, a side thought… how come winter looks so cosy in the movies, but in real life makes you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards?

No, this has been worse. It’s almost like Malapropos, the God of Inappropriate Jokes, heard my pledge and made a wager with the other Gods… “1st to break her wins a tenner!

And they nearly did. They’ve thrown all sorts of work-related, personal, financial and, not to forget, weather-based crap at me this month. And it’s only just started!! And then, last night, at the most serious point in a very serious “discussion” with my Beloved, I burst out laughing!

Well, my first reaction was to scold myself – “look what you’ve done, you’ve lost the argument now!“. My second reaction was utter confusion – “why am I laughing?“, but that only made me laugh more. I managed to regain my frosty exterior for a while… Until I eventually gave up being miserable and tried to remember all the stuff I’d learned about choice and positivity.

When I woke up this morning, I realised how “not serious” the situation we were “discussing” was. And how, I hadn’t lost at all. In fact, I’d won for a change. I hadn’t festered in misery and anger for days. I’d (and possibly for the first time ever) said my piece then let it go (almost) immediately.

So, I’d like to thank the Goddess of Inappropriate Laughter for coming to my rescue. All we need now is to get the God of Winning Lottery Numbers on side and we’ll be sorted!!